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  1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    How do I describe another person's action in third-person?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Link the Writer, Apr 8, 2011.

    My Fiction Writing teacher, after critiquing my story* the other day, noted that I have the tendency to switch POV.

    Let's take this brief sketch I just wrote up:

    Mr. Joshua Hughes sat down in the far corner of the mess hall of his ship. Next to him was one of the younger ship doctors.

    "I trust your evening went well?" he asked.

    The ship doctor looked at him with a weak smile.


    See? How do I know if I'm accidentally switching perspective? My teacher always tell us to imagine our protagonist walking around with a camera strapped to his/her head and to describe what he/she is seeing.


    * We all write our own story scene and have the class go over it.
     
  2. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    In painting the impetus of the picture in a beta draft rough idea form, I realized I tag non narrators with p.o.v. as sticky notes to myself, now that I recognize the bad habit I spot and correct it easier.... I do not feel I must correct it in the creation stage....ya dig ?
     
  3. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    No.

    I think it just means I have to describe what the character is seeing. If, say, the doctor's glaring at him...Hughes isn't gonna see this if he's turned away from the man.
     
  4. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    ^Reading aloud to yourself helps.

    What you just need to do is glue yourself into the conscious being of your character. Put yourself in his shoes. Tell me what he sees, hears, thinks, and says. And only keep your focus in that POV.
     
  5. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    The cool thing about the critique process here is the Ray Bradbury's so quickly jump on a minor head hop, it helps us spot them quickly, reading Shakespeare red pencil Steinbeck here has been a big help.
     
  6. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Or just go for a wider type of narration so you're allowed to show everything everyone does. :) There is no one right way, and often if you're struggling to stick to one thing, but fall into the habits of the other, you might as well embrace it.
     
  7. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    If another character was performing the action, like if I wrote something like...

    The young doctor examined the saber wound on Hughes' arm, nodding with satisfaction at the stitching.

    "Well, sir, its healing nicely." he said. "It'll leave a scar, however, but I fancy your wife will love it..."

    The doctor then straightened up and wiped the sweat from his brow...


    It wouldn't be switching to the doctor's POV since Hughe would be watching him do the examination?
     
  8. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    Maybe Hughe looked up and saw him do that?
     
  9. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    True.

    I just don't want to be repetitive by saying "Hughe....Hughe....Hughe...."

    I'm good with first-person, but third-person, I'm not.
     
  10. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    In both pieces you've quoted you've honestly given no indication of who was doing the thinking anyway.

    For example:

    I only added - took nothing away. :p
     
  11. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    Dude I am telling ya reading the critiques here we have no vested interest in on here
    looms large
     
  12. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why not write in first for awhile and then just change the pronouns it is how I did my novella to ensure it was locked into Socrates POV even though it was being told third person.
     
  13. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Just re-read your writing and double-check that all the details are being delivered through the main character?

    Maybe I don't get the question, because it doesn't seem too hard.

    And in both examples, it seems we're in a loose sort of omni third, but that doesn't go into anyone's perspective (keep in mind point of view means the style you're employing, and perspective means who you're telling the story through). So, I wouldn't say they're pov slips, really, just a weak, distant sort of pov.

    Worse are perspective slips, where you're in a limited pov of one character, but then suddenly you have the perspective of a second.
     
  14. OrangeInAir
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    OrangeInAir Member

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    In your examples it just seems to me that you have a narrator's pov, or rather a non-character's pov. To me, it doesn't seem to switch.
     
  15. amementomori
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    amementomori New Member

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    What I believe the issue is, is your use of pronouns are completely poor; replace them with proper nouns and open your ear. Your sample was also incomplete, but I understand your question. The rule for pronouns is the preceeding pronoun used will be the reference for the forthcoming pronoun. For instance:

    James opened the door then sat in the corner. Ben was already in his place -- his corner -- apearing to ignore James and his antics.

    "I know we have to remain as quite possible, but a trim greeting would fix the tenderness of my anxiety," he said.

    The above is wrong. Since the last pronoun used does not correlate with whom the intended speakeris in the dialogue is, the writer must change the last pronoun hereinabove to a proper noun ['he said.' change to 'Jame said.' -- otherwise the reader will automatically assume Ben to be the speaker, which is not the case.].

    If anything I said is incorrect, correction is welcome.

    Actually, after re-reading my post. I just realized: The first main clause (containing a pro- or proper-noun) preceeding a dialgue dictates the correlating pronoun.

    My first post, hopefully not the last.
     
  16. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    This is all good, but it is so important as a beginner writer to learn to write a whole story in a limited viewpoint. Once you mastered it, it becomes easier to play around with different POVs and viewpoints.

    As for the OP, I don't see any POV or viewpoint slips, as someone above said, it's just a weak POV.
     

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